Personable Houchins helped grow GLMV chamber to largest in Lake County
Friendly and personable, B. Dwight Houchins never shook his Texas roots while drumming up business in Lake County.
The former president and CEO of the Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills Chamber of Commerce died Jan. 5 in Mundelein. He was 76.
"They used to call him Amarillo Dwight," said Ken Suskin, who chaired the GLMV Chamber of Commerce board. "He used to tell stories. He was a folksy type guy."
As GLMV chief from 1999 to 2007, Houchins was credited with growing GLMV into the largest local chamber in Lake County, and 14th largest in Illinois, by creating valuable programs, services and resources for the business community.
"He really came across as a good guy," said Scott Adams, who headed MainStreet Libertyville when Houchins came on board. "He understood what the businesses were going through and was able to help them out."
Part of his work included building a relationship with MainStreet and exposing retailers to a larger market, added Adams, who now heads GLMV.
Houchins was born in Amarillo, Texas and served in the U.S. Army for 18 years, including as a recruiter.
A cancer survivor, Houchins was a fixture at the GLMV Relay of Life, which raised millions of dollars for cancer research, and worked for smoke-free workplace ordinances in Lake County. He also volunteered for the American Cancer Society and, as the Lake County representative, lobbied on its behalf in Washington, D.C.
Adams recalled several years ago when friends took turns taking Houchins to chemo treatments.
"He would never bring that up himself," Adams said of the illness. "He was very humble."
Green Oaks became a member during Houchins first year as chamber CEO. Other accomplishments included Operation Freedom Calls, a collaboration to provide teleconferencing between troops in Iraq and their families.
"He was active in everything. He was the face of the chamber," Suskin recalled. "He threw his whole heart and soul into it."
Survivors include many friends, among them Nancy Dunn of Libertyville and Matthew and Angela Tomlinson of Grayslake, with whom Houchins established WSFI 88.5 Catholic Radio.
Visitation will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass at Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel, 126 N. Lake St. (Route 45) in Mundelein. Visitors are asked to enter on West Crystal Street to the rectory parking lot.
A service with military honors and interment will be held at a later date, at the veterans monument of Lakeside Cemetery in Libertyville.
Memorial contributions can be made to WSFI 88.5 Catholic Radio, P.O. Box 885, Libertyville, IL 60048. Call (847) 362-3009 or share a memory at www.burnettdane.com.